Fleabag onstage

‘Phoebe Waller-Bridge is an inspiration to my generation’: FLEABAG – Soho Theatre (Online review)

In Comedy, Inspiring people, London theatre, Native, Online shows, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Annie Davey

“Fleabag Live”, creator Phoebe Waller Bridge’s on-demand performance of her original stage hit, brilliantly mirrors the comedy and unique factors of the hit television show it spawned, whilst maintaining the aim to aggrandise and explore the struggles of being a modern woman.

This disparate one-woman show is immensely captivating, despite the barren set and casual clothing worn by Waller-Bridge. The power of the piece derives from the outstanding delivery and very current topic. Not only did this play spark and grow into a huge success on the BBC but also casually brought major issues to light.

If you love the TV show, the play is highly worth a watch. The story is almost identical and Waller-Bridge’s performance is stronger and even more humorous.  The small charge of £4 is well worth it just for the entertainment that the live show provides. But the main reason to watch is all the proceeds go to the NHS and charities that are helping to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I love people but they get me down”

As a young woman, I admire the dominant female character portrayed and find her hilarious whilst also highly relatable. The mention of attractive men, periods, and being a “bad feminist” is completely naturalistic and organic, adding to the appeal. Waller-Bridge has cleverly targeted the minds of young women and has pinpointed the struggles even they have with feminism.

For example, in the modern-day, “ideal” body image is vastly marketised. Most women still pine for the “perfect body” and then feel guilty about exactly this!  Not only does Fleabag present issues like this as funny, she also emphasises how they are humane and normal.

I also admire and respect the boldness of this show. Nothing like this has been done before, as comedy shows do not normally effortlessly tackle the problem that is sexual harassment. Fleabag casually drops in references to when this has happened to her, most of the time getting laughs out of the audience.

Not only does Waller-Bridge bring this neglected issue to light, but she also proves how it is almost normalised as her character just accepts it. This is more apparent in the stage production, and I believe it would have added more meaning to the television show.

Although the performance is mainly centred around comedy, there is also a string of brutal truths – such as Fleabag’s mourning over the death of her best friend, accepting the fact that her father is a lost cause and the constant reminder of her deceased Mother.

All of these experiences are a natural struggle for most of us, and they bring the play to life even more. Even small droplets of wisdom are threaded throughout, which will resonate with any audience. An example is the lovely old man Joe expressing how “I love people but they get me down”. How true.

There is one thing that cannot be denied: the overall performance is incredible. From the music, voiceovers, sound effects, and use of mime, Fleabag is entertaining and a pleasure to watch. The audience’s attention is completely directed onto the single female performer, as it should be.

I love both the television show and the live production of Fleabag. Both incarnations demonstrate why Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius and an inspiration to so many women of my generation.

Annie Davey on InstagramAnnie Davey on Twitter
Annie Davey
Annie Davey is a Terri Paddock Group intern, working across MyTheatreMates and sister site StageFaves. She's been in love with theatre for as long as she can remember and enjoys combining it with her love of English and review writing. She is also studying with LAMDA and taking regular performing arts exams.

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Annie Davey on InstagramAnnie Davey on Twitter
Annie Davey
Annie Davey is a Terri Paddock Group intern, working across MyTheatreMates and sister site StageFaves. She's been in love with theatre for as long as she can remember and enjoys combining it with her love of English and review writing. She is also studying with LAMDA and taking regular performing arts exams.